About Artist's Eye

Our family moved to the Community in 1990. While raising our two children here I've worked at Paraclete Press and have been involved with Fine Arts over the years. I love to paint, tell stories, and build puppets--a thirty foot whale and her baby for the Spirit of America Band Field Show was one of the funnest projects I've ever done!

Late Have I Loved You

 
Beauty So Ancient and So New
 
In the ruins of the monastery of Monasterboice, Ireland, there is a nineteen-foot carved sandstone cross from the tenth century known as Muiredach’s High Cross. The central panel of the cross’s west face shows a crucifixion scene with a young beardless Christ on the cross. As is typical of medieval Irish depictions, He is the Christus Triumphans type; He is shown alive and without suffering. Above his outstretched arms there are two angels.
 
These two angels have appeared in crucifixion scenes for centuries. Often when the details of their features are more clearly articulated, they are shown distraught with grief over the suffering of their Lord. The softened abstraction of what remains of Muiredach’s High Cross suggests a different attitude to me. I imagine the attentive affection of the heavenly ones as they brood over their Love laid slain; an affection resisting despair and poised to rejoice at the renewal they await; an attitude I hope they still bear today when they look down and contemplate the troubles of our times. 
 
detail of the Muiredach Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan.

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

One summer night when I was a child I made a wish. I desperately wanted my life to change. I wanted to live in a “free” country. I can’t honestly claim that this was any kind of a prayer. As I remember that night it was definitely in the: “wish I may, wish I might” category. I guess I’d be the first person to explain to a child that wishes and prayers are very different entities but the other night as I watched another summer night sky fill up with stars I was grateful that the unequivocal desires of my heart were heard up in heaven.

640px-Night-sky

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

O taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8

Butterflies sometimes park themselves in mud puddles or on the wet sand just out of reach of the waves. While flower nectar supplies most of a butterfly’s diet they also need the minerals and salts they take in by sipping moisture from puddles and moist soil. Entomologists unceremoniously call this behavior “puddling”.
 
The puddling butterfly came to mind recently when I was reading a very worthy tome and found that I had reread the same sentence several times without comprehending a thing. Better, I thought, to hover elsewhere for a time. Sometimes I know I need the sustenance of wordless things to feed my soul.
 
Lime_Butterfly
 

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

Listening to the rain pattering off the trees reminded me of summer camp in the mountains. Nothing between us and the rain but a cabin screen; bundled up in sweatshirts as the late August air rapidly released the swelter of its heat; happily marooned with fellow cabin mates—our family unit for the summer.

I learned a lot about myself in the casual acceptance of total strangers. Slipped from the moorings of whatever it was that I thought my family expected of me, I tried out new ways of being myself. I saw the world with different eyes. I know I was lucky; I know I was loved; and I don’t take for granted the work that it took to build an environment for kids that was that safe and that sound.

foundation

 

 

 

 

Late Have I Loved You

 
As [the Mole] sat on the grass and looked across the river, a dark hole in the bank opposite, just above the water’s edge, caught his eye . . . As he gazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart of it, vanished, and then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was too glittering and small for a glow worm. Then as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face began gradually to grow up round it, like a frame around a picture.—Kenneth Grahame, The Wind and The Willows. (Illustration by EH Shepherd)

Kenneth Grahame’s masterful introduction to his character, the Water Rat, in The Wind and The Willows makes me think about how very gradually, sometimes, I become aware of God’s gifts to me. Something bright attracts my attention, like the apprehension of some Beauty, the comprehension of some Word, or the appropriation of some Grace. Only dimly at first, do I even recognize the Giver behind the Gift and then, only as I gaze at the Blessing, do I discover that the Personality who contains and frames it is standing right there.
 
EHShepard's illustration

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews12:1

Sometimes when I struggle with myself I am motivated by a picture of a crowd of watchers peering down from heaven, their smiling faces ranged around a balustrade. On a good day I imagine both the strangers and the dear departed friends cheering and laughing good naturedly. And on the bad days? Well, then I guess their faces are more earnest and intent, and perhaps some of them let their exasperation with their charge show in their faces.

I had to reconsider this image recently when someone pointed out that maybe some of that crowd might actually be very much alive, and looking up, not down. Some of the great cloud might still be a few feet shorter than me. I never imagine that the small people I know take much notice of my coming and going but who knows who is looking on. There’s nobody who sees more honestly than a perceptive child. Now there’s a new motivator to
 
keep up the fight.
 
 
 
 
 
_MG_6578A
 
 

 

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

I have a friend who refers to mistakes and failures as “course corrections. ” Myself, I pretty much go down for the count when I mess up. After apologizing for the third time in one day for dropping the ball on a job (you understand — that’s three separate drops, three separate apologies, three separate nose dives.) I was considering the whole course correction idea. The key to this enlightened philosophy is knowing one’s destination. 

Saint Augustine, who apparently knew all about being wrong, famously said, ” You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Remembering my destination is my best hope for standing up and setting out again.

ship

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye 

I was recently in the right place at the right time to see some Bog Coppers enjoying their brief season in the sun. Unlike their ubiquitous cousins, the American Coppers, these dark beauties only breed once and are usually only seen for a few weeks of the summer. Tiny transient out-pourings of God’s extravagance.

The fourth century writer known as Pseudo-Dionysius, referring to God as the Beautiful, wrote: “Beauty is the great creating cause which bestirs the world and holds all things in existence. . . .  [It] is the Cause toward which all things move, since it is the longing for beauty which brings them into existence.” 

The Coppers beat their wings gently as they dodge the light and shadows of the swampy vegetation surrounding their bog. Watching that frail beauty, I imagine that they are part of the whole creation groaning and longing for that New Day which Beauty will win.
 
 
Bog Copper male

Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

My Godmother was the most creative person I knew when I was a kid. Handmade, never before imagined, uniquely crafted items arrived in the mail for Christmas and birthdays. A visit to her home always included a tour of the latest renovation, remodeling, or re-purposing she had dreamed up. No wall was too sacred to demolish, no paint color too outrageous to try, and no material too unfamiliar to hazard. She was not, as it happened, a Christian. I have often thought that God knew that that department of my little life was well in hand and so He gave me something else He knew I needed. My Aunt Dorcas had an eye for beauty and life. She was not about the status quo or worrying about what the whole neighborhood thought. She was what I now think of as a model of the “courage to create.” Being creative can sometimes seem like a dicey business so I thank God for those people I’ve known who were willing to run the risk.

house painter